Visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched way back in 1953 and only decommissioned in 1997.
During its working life this vessel carried varying members of the British Royal Family, dignitaries from around the world and was the setting for more than one drama.
If only those cabin walls could speak. What tales they would be able to tell.
Of course the Royal Yacht in question was by no means the first such vessel.
Great Britain had used such vessels since the 1700s. but this particular Royal Yacht is known by many, even if only in a small way. During its working life it travelled to all corners of the world. Commissioned in 1954 the Royal Yacht made 968 official visits; even for forty odd years that is a lot of travelling.
Despite having seen this yacht many times on the television I had never actually seen it in the flesh, so to speak. Called a yacht, one imagines it to be fairly small. Having said that though, as it is the vessel of the British monarchy, in other ways I imagined it to be large and luxurious.
So just what did I find when I visited the Royal Yacht Britannia at its current home in Leith Docks, near Edinburgh?
We visited Scotland for a short break a few years ago and our trip involved a day excursion to Edinburgh which in turn included a brief visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia.
It was the end of October and a lovely clear day although there was a nip in the air. As we approached the docks the weather certainly became much colder and the wind was quite strong. Our travel courier paid our entrance fee of £7 each and we were in.
Prices have more than doubled since we visited and are now :
We spent quite a while in here reading the story of the Royal Yacht and its occupants over the years. However as we were limited for time we did have to skip over some things a little.
There was a royal car and small royal barge also on display. Following the display around you end up entering the dock area.
I am not sure what I expected with this yacht but it did seem small in some ways. It is the sort of vessel that I would describe as "homely" looking from the outside.
Entrance was by walking up some stairs in a small enclosed tower and then you were on board. If you have mobility issues check before you visit .
There are some places on the yacht that are out of bounds but there is still a lot to see.
Some cabins and rooms are only viewed through a glass screen. Others, you can walk part of the way in but much of the room is cordoned off behind ropes, similar to a formal museum.
There are headsets available for your use as you wander around the vessel. You will hear interesting facts and figures which will help you get the most out of your visit.
There are photographs of people such as Princess Diana, and the young Queen Elizabeth many years ago, placed in appropriate places. It is strange to look at these and imagine the scene unfolding before your eyes.
We did find that some of the furniture and decorations looked a little tired, worn out and simple. Of course no doubt the best items are not on display. It does make you realise just how cramped everyone would have been during a long sea voyage though.
The engine room is painted pristine white and apparently always was.
I would definitely visit the Yacht again. As we were part of an organised group our time was limited and our visit more rushed than I would have liked. In order to do the Yacht justice allow yourself enough time.
The gift shop is quite expensive but no more than similar places.
It is possible nowadays to book an organised tour, group booking or educational visit.
Check out the website for full details, opening times and current prices.
As with most of these type of attractions the Royal Yacht attraction has changed a little since my visit and will no doubt change more in years to come.
"The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, Scotland. We are just 15 minutes' drive from Edinburgh city centre. Our Visitor Centre is in Ocean Terminal on the second floor."
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